Modeling Theater Sets with POV-Ray (Part 3)

This post is part of a how-to series for using POV-Ray to model theater sets. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2. In part 3 I talk about techniques for creating images from the model that can be used as drawings and plans.

The first important option for images you may want to print, is background. Background allows you to change the color of the undefined void in the model’s virtual world. White is a good background for printing. While we’re at it, let’s stop coding in rgb values and start using colors.

#include "colors.inc"
background { color White }

background { color White }

background { color White }

POV-Ray has a few different camera types. The two we’re interested in are the perspective and orthographic. Perspective is the standard camera, and it’s the type we defined in part 1. Orthographic basically means without perspective. An orthographic view from above the set looking straight down gives a set drawing style image. Here’s the camera definition for the top-down view used in part 2. You’ll need to replace the camera definition there, or put both in your scene file and comment out one or the other.

camera {
orthographic
location <0,20,0>
look_at <0,0,0>
}

Orthographic camera from above

Orthographic camera from above

Drawings require a scale reference to be useful. Typically scales are described at 1/4″ = 1′ or 1/2″ = 1′ or similar. This is mainly because we want to be able to use a ruler to measure a line on the drawing and convert its length to how the real world object should be. It turns out this part is a bit tricky in POV-Ray (I may tackle it later.) Luckily, all we really need is a way to recognize 1′ distances on the drawing. Building a grid under our model does the trick.

.oO( should I explain planes and textures and color_maps and everything? )

( Nah, if they’re even reading this, they just want the magic. )Oo.

#include "textures.inc"
intersection {
plane { y, .001 }
box { <-14,-.001,-10>, <14,.002,10> }
pigment {
Tiles_Ptrn()
color_map{
[0.00 color rgb <0,0,0>]   // black lines
[0.075 color rgbt <0,0,0,1>]  // transparent spaces
}
rotate x*90  // rotates the pattern onto the "upper side" of the plane
}
finish { ambient 1 }
no_shadow
}

Top view with grid

Top view with grid

The grid is generally not useful when looking at the set with typical “audience member” camera views like our original camera.

Grid with original camera definition

Grid with original camera definition

However, we get an interesting effect that might aid set construction or visualization if we use an orthographic camera at a 45 degree inclination and a little off to one side of center.

camera {
orthographic
location  <5.0, 16.0, -16.0>
look_at   <0.0, 0.0,  0.0>
}

Orthogonal elevation

Orthogonal elevation

Such a view might be very useful for sets with stairs or many levels.

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